The role of virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)-induced demyelinating disease, a viral model for multiple sclerosis, is not yet clear. To investigate the specificity and function of CTL generated in response to TMEV infection, we generated a panel of overlapping 20-mer peptides encompassing the entire capsid and leader protein region of the BeAn strain of TMEV. Binding of these peptides to H-2Kb and H-2Db class I molecules of resistant mice was assessed using RMA-S cells. Several peptides displayed significant binding to H-2Kb, H-2Db, or both. However, infiltrating cytotoxic T cells in the central nervous system of virus-infected mice preferentially lysed target cells pulsed with VP2111-130/121-140 or VP2121-130, a previously defined CTL epitope shared by the DA strain of TMEV and other closely related cardioviruses. In addition, at a high effector-to-target cell ratio, two additional peptides (VP2161-180 and VP3101-120) sensitized target cells for cytolysis by infiltrating T cells or splenic T cells from virus-infected mice. The minimal epitopes within these peptides were defined as VP2165-173 and VP3110-120. Based on cytokine profiles, CTL specific for these subdominant epitopes are Tc2, in contrast to CTL for the immunodominant epitope, which are of the Tc1 type. Interestingly, CTL function towards both of these subdominant epitopes is restricted by the H-2D molecule, despite the fact that these epitopes bind both H-2K and H-2D molecules. This skewing toward an H-2Db-restricted response may confer resistance to TMEV-induced demyelinating disease, which is known to be associated with the H-2D genetic locus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science